Santorum criticizes Ronald Reagan on Social Security

posted at 2:45 pm on January 5, 2012 by Tina Korbe

Gotta say, every time I read a headline that makes me think I’ll like Rick Santorum less, I just find myself liking him more. When I came across this article in The Huffington Post, I cringed to think Santorum might have taken a cheap shot at conservatives’ most revered modern hero. But he did no such thing. Instead, he made a valid point — that Reagan, for all his many victories, still established a troublesome precedent of quickly “fixing” Social Security instead of meaningfully reforming the program. The relevant excerpt:

Santorum outlined his stance on social security at the event, spending a good 10 minutes on the issue. In the process, he took aim at a revered Republican figure, knocking former President Ronald Reagan’s 1983 Social Security deal. Santorum criticized Reagan’s decision to raise both the retirement age and taxes, linking those choices to the nation’s current fiscal crisis.

“I love Ronald Reagan, but if I would point to one thing during his administration that he did a serious wrong, it was this bill, it was this Social Security fix,” Santorum told the crowd. “He brought the idea of increasing taxes now, which is always what the left wants to do. Increase taxes now and reduce benefits later.”

To be fair, the George W. Bush presidency taught observers just how difficult meaningful Social Security reform will be — and SS will actually be the easiest of the Big Three entitlement programs to tackle. No doubt the appetite for reform in 1983 was even less than it is now. Nevertheless, Santorum’s willingness to speak negatively about Reagan demonstrates his comfort level with his own core convictions — which, as I wrote this morning, undoubtedly include a belief that we need to reform entitlements, if not a belief that we need to eliminate earmarks.


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